chapter  7
17 Pages

Pierre Bourdieu

Symbolic violence and self-exclusion
WithChristopher Thorpe

This chapter identifies and explores the main social theoretical contributions of Pierre Bourdieu and how they can be applied to social work. Explicating Bourdieu’s conceptual trilogy of habitus, capital and field, as well as a number of other related concepts, the chapter demonstrates the value of his theoretical ideas for critically reflecting various core social work themes and values including self-determination, autonomy and agency. The applied section of the chapter sketches out a vision of the analytical concerns and conceptual parameters of a Bourdieusian-inspired social work, as well as demonstrating the value of Bourdieu’s ‘field theory’ for mapping the declining autonomy of contemporary social work. The chapter concludes by raising the issue of why to date, the conceptual legacy of Bourdieu has been all but entirely overlooked by social work.